Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

A La Carte

May 28, 2016


Why Is Clinton Disliked?

Yes, the question has to do with politics, but there is a bigger point we can all consider: “Even a socially good vocation can swallow you up and make you lose a sense of your own voice. Maybe it’s doubly important that people with fulfilling vocations develop, and be seen to develop, sanctuaries outside them: in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure.”

7 Preaching Pitfalls

Michael Kruger outlines 7 common preaching pitfalls that preachers will want to avoid.

The Hidden Science of Elevators

This is a surprisingly interesting article on how elevators actually decide when and how to come and pick you up.

You Are Not Your Sexuality

Sam Allberry: “It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.”

What American Christians Believe

“Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center published some data on what American Christians value in everyday life. The data is fascinating,” and Chris Martin explains it.

Mulims Turning to Christ

We just keep hearing more and more reports of Muslims turning to Christ. What an encouragement!

This Day in 1954. 62 years ago today, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill which added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. *

Unsung Heroes

The Smithsonian says that the Merchant Marine were the unsung heroes of World War 2. “These daring seamen kept the Allied troops armed and fed while at the mercy of German U-boats.”

Flashback: The Tone Deaf Singer

“The prosperity gospel has not produced a new generation of great Christian hymns. Neither have Positive Thinking or Progressive Christianity. There is a reason we would not expect them to.”

Reformed Dads and Grads Gift Ideas

I’m thankful to Missional Wear for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors play a crucial role in keeping the blog going, so I’m grateful to each one of them.

Horton

The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 27, 2016

Eternity Etched On My Eyes

This is a powerful bit of writing. “‘I’m so weak. I’m so weak. I’m so weak,’ I whispered from the floor where I lay in my room, overwhelmed with the ongoing pain day after day. I looked up at my nightstand where the little orange bottle sat containing the narcotic medication. If I took a bunch, I wouldn’t feel the pain anymore. I slowly lifted myself off the floor and sat on the edge of my bed.”

Don’t Dismiss Housework

So good: “The work of a stay-at-home mom—as well as the labor done by many domestic workers—is often disdained by our society because it fixates on and around the home. Yet traditionally, the home was not a place to be despised.”

Multi-Site Church Video Screen Utterly Fails At Pastoral Counseling

In my mind this is a great example of what satire can accomplish so well. “Going to the screen from which they get their weekly Sunday messages, the couple began pouring out their marital issues to the inanimate object, including Judy’s spending and Derrick’s untidiness. However, after a good half-hour with no response from the video screen, the couple’s discussion stalled, and they left discouraged.”

We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect

“If we genuinely are willing to take our cues from the New Testament, rather than instinct, we might be surprised to find the way the apostles would have us to engage with our society.”

Grieve and Receive the Gift of Special Needs

Andrew Wilson writes movingly of both the grieving and the gift of children with special needs.

4 Ways to Categorize Complaints in the Church

Here’s one for pastors and church leaders to consider.

This Day in 1564. 452 years ago today, French Protestant Reformer John Calvin died. *

How to Glorify God by Being a Generalist

I really appreciate what Joe Carter says here about the value of being a generalist (as opposed to a specialist).

Flashback: To The Other Woman’s Embrace

“I sometimes wonder what it was like for Sarah as she watched Abraham and Hagar walk into that tent together—what she thought, what she felt. What was it like for the wife to watch her husband seek privacy with that other woman, knowing exactly what they were about to do?”

Horton

Men’s ideas of the wrath to come may be judged of by the earnestness with which they exhort others to fly from it. —J.C. Ryle

May 26, 2016

Actively Serving Christ in Older Age

Here’s a challenge for all of us: “One of the characteristics that has always impressed me about highly committed servants of Jesus Christ is that they continue to actively serve Him to the very end of their lives. Long after others have retired from their vocations and various forms of Christian service, these deeply dedicated Christian servants continue right on actively ministering for the Lord in whatever ways they are able.”

An Air Assault from a Persistent Widow

This seems appropriate in light of the last link: “a lesser known part of the Henry legacy is the role of the persistent prayers of a widowed secretary in the converting work of God in Henry’s life.”

New Studies in Biblical Theology

Westminster Books is having a great sale on the excellent New Studies in Biblical Theology series which is edited by D.A. Carson.

To the Women Who Wish Their Husbands Were Spiritual Leaders

“I get it. You see who your husband COULD be. If only he prayed more. If only he led the family to go to church. If only he read his Bible daily. If only he was the spiritual leader that you know your family needs.”

What Should Christians Think about Cremation?

Richard Phillips takes a look at Christian views of cremation. “The assumption seems to be that cremation versus burial is a matter of complete indifference, a subject about which the Bible has little or nothing to say.” He disagrees.

This Day in 735. 1,281 years ago today, The Venerable Bede, “father of English history,” died. *

How A Gutenberg Press Works

This quirky individual demonstrates the Gutenberg press using a rare (or perhaps unique) working model. That simple machine changed the world!

Global Warming and ‘Climate Change’

Creation Ministries International takes a look at recent developments related to climate change science and offers guidelines for discernment.

Horton

Grace must raise the temptation to think we can sin as we please; if it does not, we have not understood the true extent of grace. —Derek Thomas

May 25, 2016

Devotional Theology

I like the sound of this series: “From the fallible, presumptuous words of Jesus Calling to the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer, eager Christian women everywhere are desperately seeking to know God better. However, the one thing we’re lacking is the one thing that’s sitting right under our noses—the Word of God; and further, a right understanding and application of it.”

Why Your Pastor Should Say “No More to Beth Moore”

Josh Buice highlights common (and important) concerns with Beth Moore. “Although concerns have been raised through the years, Beth Moore continues to be welcomed into the study groups within local churches where women read her books, study guides, and watch her videos with limited, if any, oversight from the pastoral staff.”

Reading Writers

Aaron Armstrong invited me to be a guest on his podcast to discuss the joys of reading. We also discuss how and where I read and I insult him for reading comic books, I mean graphic novels.

Children of the Heroin Crisis

Here is a sad look at grandparents who have been forced to raise their grandchildren because the parents have been consumed by the heroin crisis. “With the rise in heroin use, grandparents are increasingly raising their grandchildren because the parents are either dead, in jail, in rehab or otherwise incapable of taking care of their children.”

Submission Is a Mark of Maturity

This is true no matter who you are or who you are called to submit to: Maturity matters.

This Day in 1865. 151 years ago today, John Mott was born. Mott served with the Y.M.C.A. for 40 years and chaired the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference. *

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil

I’ve linked in the past to Carl Trueman’s thoughts on conspiracy theories. In general, I agree with what he says (though here the term is not defined, something that would have been helpful).

Reboot Your Phone with Mindfulness

Even if you don’t buy into the wider philosophy behind this article, there is lots of good advice on setting up your phone in such a way that you reduce distraction and do away with many of your thoughtless or subconscious interactions with it.

Flashback: Can You Help Me Find a Good Church?

“It may be the email I get more than any other: Can you help me find a church?”

Horton

Never presume God will grant you apart from prayer what he has ordained to grant you only by means of prayer. —Sam Storms

May 24, 2016

The Hidden Hours of Ministry

I’m looking forward to this series about the hidden hours of ministry. “The hidden hours lay the foundation for what happens publicly. The clamour of pastoral and teaching ministry can make it tempting to hold to public priorities, while neglecting more private responsibilities.”

Ben Zobrist Is Reinventing Himself

You’ll probably need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this one.

The Backside Blessings of Blogging

“Like the businessman whose only measure of success is the bottom line or the pastor who only looks at how many people are in his church’s pews, bloggers can also be one-dimensional in gauging the importance of their work.” Barry York looks at some of the hidden blessings of blogging.

Art Before Commerce

If you enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes (as I do and as my children do) you’ll also enjoy this video about what made his comics so successful. (Note: There’s one bad word in there.)

10 Issues in Theological Papers

Andy Naselli points out 10 issues he frequently marks when grading theological papers.

This Day in 1738. 278 years ago today, John Wesley felt his “heart strangely warmed” and trusted in Christ. *

Is Meek Weak?

You will probably benefit from reading this article about meekness. I know I did… 

The 35 Kinds of Animal

“Every animal on Earth belongs to one of about 35 groups called ‘phyla’. Some are familiar, but others are profoundly strange.”

Flashback: The Man I Am

“So there I was, traveling at 100 kilometers per hour, in the passing lane of a 6-lane highway, and I couldn’t see a thing. I had my 2 daughters with me, so I told them to pray while I tried to get over to the shoulder…”

Horton

Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing. It is not the unity which pleases God. —J.C. Ryle

May 23, 2016

Do Biological Facts No Longer Matter?

I am always interested in Nancy Pearcey’s take on contemporary issues. “The Darwinian worldview implies that the cosmos is merely a vast amoral machine. It reduces the human body to a lump of matter, a collection of atoms and molecules, not intrinsically different from any other chance configuration of matter. There can be no natural law ethic because humanity has no purpose to fulfill.”

The Importance of Integrity

I like the sound of this series by John MacArthur. “We’re going to consider what God’s Word says about integrity—how to develop it, how to nurture it, and how to guard it from the duplicitous nature of our fallen flesh.”

The Stewardship of Power

This is so important: “God gives power and position for the sake of his people, not for the privilege of the leader.”

Hospitality

I enjoyed this little reflection on the beauty of hospitality (perhaps in part because I think I know who Elle is).

Are You Ashamed of Jesus?

I appreciate Steven’s questions for himself, questions that help him think through whether he is boldly living for Jesus or quietly ashamed of Jesus.

This Day in 2007. 9 years ago today in Deerfield, IL, The Gospel Coalition kicked off their first National Conference. *

Flightless Birds

From AiG: “When we think of birds, we think of flight. But it appears the Creator had other plans, too. Along with birds of the air, He made birds that dash across the grassy plains and swim gracefully under the open sea!” 

The Oregon Trail Today

“One of America’s greatest highways is barely visible from the ground. It’s only from the air that you can pick out the remains of the Oregon Trail.” This short video proves it.

Flashback: The Ledger

Consider: Near the center of every religion is a ledger. Every religion acknowledges, on one level or another, that people do good things and bad things and every religion then maintains a tally, supposing that one day there will come a reckoning. Every religion hopes that on the day of accounting, the day of the audit, the good will outnumber or outweigh the bad.

Horton

The battle for the Christian life starts with the battle for the Christian mind. —Steven Lawson

May 21, 2016

It is a long weekend here in Canada as we pause for Victoria Day on Monday. This holiday marks the unofficial start of cottage season for those who have been so blessed. The rest of us just enjoy an extra day off and, hopefully, some time with friends and family.

How to Shepherd Every Member

The latest mailbag from 9Marks offers a helpful take on how pastors can care for every member in the church.

Women Teaching Men

I’d encourage you to give Mary Kassian’s excellent article a careful read.

A Subjective Definition of Death

“An influential cadre of utilitarian bioethicists wants to redefine it to include a subjective and sociologically based meaning. Their purpose isn’t greater scientific accuracy. Rather, by making ‘death’ malleable, they hope to open the door further to treating indisputably living human beings as if they were cadavers.”

What Is the Internet’s Favorite Book?

“Which is the better book: War and Peace or installment one of The Hunger Games? If you ask a book reviewer or look at any of the ‘Best Book’ lists compiled by critics, you would say War and Peace. But what if you asked everyday readers on the Internet?”

If We Have to Foreclose, is God Still Good?

Lore Ferguson always does transparency well, and that’s exactly the case in this article.

When Honor Becomes Toxic

Even good things can become bad things eventually. That is exactly the case with honor.

This Day in 1832. 184 years ago today, Hudson Taylor was born. Taylor was an English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission. *

Women and Concussions

Somehow studies like this, which on the one hand are completely unsurprising, seem very surprising at a time when differences are so downplayed. “In sports like soccer and basketball in which girls and boys play by the same rules, with the same equipment and the same facilities, girls have higher concussion rates than boys.”

Flashback: The Danger of Lectio Divina

“Over the past few years an old form of Bible reading and interpretation has resurfaced and made quite an impact.” Here is what I consider a helpful and level-headed critique of one of its shortcomings.

Why Pastors Need to Help Their People Connect Faith and Work

I’m thankful to Made to Flourish for sponsoring the blog this week.

Marsh

We are justified freely, by grace; meritoriously, by Christ; instrumentally, by faith; evidentially, by good works. —William Marsh

May 20, 2016

Don’t Be Embarrassed by Your Ordinary Church

By definition most churches are ordinary churches, right?

Hong Kong

This video of Hong Kong is beautifully done. (Isn’t it sad to see the empty, superstitious worship…)

Is Your Pastor Happy To See You?

I think you’ll appreciate this one from Jared Wilson. (I feel the need to say that Grace Fellowship Church treats its pastors very well, so this is not much of an issue there!)

Our Respectable Sin—Laziness

“The testimony of the Bible from beginning to end says that laziness is wicked. But we don’t often look at it that way. Why is that? Why don’t we think laziness is a big deal? Why has laziness become a respectable sin among Christians?”

Tim Challies Wins Jeopardy! In Dominant Performance

I thought you might enjoy this satire from The Babylon Bee since A La Carte features prominently. (But I guess he didn’t know that Canadians are no longer allowed on Jeopardy.)

The Manchineel Tree

“You might be tempted to eat the fruit. Do not eat the fruit. You might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch.  Do not touch the tree trunk or any branches. Do not stand under or even near the tree for any length of time whatsoever. Do not touch your eyes while near the tree. Do not pick up any of the ominously shiny, tropic-green leaves.” (Just ignore the evolutionary mumbo-jumbo.)

This Day in 1690. 326 years ago today, John Eliot died. Eliot was a missionary to the Native Americans of New England and publisher of the first Bible printed in America. *

Preacher, Teacher, Sunday Entertainer?

There are some good lines in this article like “You are boring. The Bible is not” and “Exegesis is like digging in a mine. Digging is hard work and it’s time-consuming. We don’t do it because we like holes, but because we expect to find gold.”

Flashback: A Knight in Shining Blubber

It’s a silly title but makes a serious point—a point about not missing the point.

Moody

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. —D.L. Moody